One of Sam Avery’s fellow “city born” brothers-in-arms from Charlestown was George DiPesa. At the time of his original enlistment in the Massachusetts National Guard at age 22, George lived in Revere and was employed as an auto mechanic. George enlisted at Malden on March 26, 1917 prior to the declaration of war and was assigned to L Co., 5th Mass. Infantry.
When the 5th Mass. Infantry was dismantled and integrated into the 26th “Yankee” Division in August 1917 (see the 26th “Yankee” Division Page for more information), George was assigned to L Co. in the 101st Infantry Regiment, 51st Brigade and served under the name of “George A. Sophia” using his step-father’s last name. Diminutive in stature at 5′-1″, George was also known as the shortest man in the 101st Infantry.
As fellow members of the “Yankee” Division, George and Sam shared the same hardships, discomforts and dangers as they occupied the same Sectors during 210 days of continuous combat during 1917-1918. As one of the “originals” in the 101st Infantry, George served in the Chemin des Dames, Toul Defensive Sector, Champagne-Marne Defensive, Aisne-Marne Offensive, St. Mihiel Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
George served with distinction under fire, or as Sam Avery would say “gave a good account of himself”: He was slightly wounded on May 31, 1918 while in the Troyon sector, and also was seriously gassed which required a long recovery (see the Recovery in the Hospitals Page for more information). He received the Victory Medal with 5 campaign clasps and the Verdun Medal (France) in addition to the Purple Heart.
After receiving his discharge from Federal service in early May, 1919, George chose to briefly continue his military career and re-enlisted for another term in the 9th Mass. Infantry (National Guard). He rose to the grade of Corporal and received his final discharge in 1921. After the war, George continued to live in Revere where he raised a family and worked as a janitor in the Revere Public Schools. In 1940, George died at the young age of 45 from lung cancer caused by the gassing he had received in 1918.
(Information and photos courtesy of John A. DiPesa, SMSgt USAF)